Few things are all good or all bad. The Shack, from all I can tell, was written out of a deep desire to show people a relational aspect of God they might not have seen, to show that God is not cold or callous in the face of human suffering. This is a good thing.
There are also plenty of things The Shack rejects that need to be rejected. God is not white (although I don’t think that’s a very widespread error). People don’t always suffer because they’ve done something wrong– sometimes innocent people (from a human perspective) suffer and evil people prosper. Lifeless, legalistic religiosity is not what Jesus died to bring his people into. I’m right with Young on all these points.
I also underlined several passages I thought were good. Here’s a sampling:
“Mackenzie, the Truth shall set you free and the Truth has a name; he’s over in the woodshop right now covered in sawdust. Everything is about him. And freedom is a process that happens inside a relationship with him.” (95)
“Mackenzie, I am what some would say ‘holy, and wholly other than you.’ The problem is that many folks try to grasp some sense of who I am by taking the best version of themselves, projecting that to the nth degree, factoring in all the goodness they can perceive, which often isn’t much, and then call that God. And while it may seem like a noble effort, the truth is that it falls pitifully short of who I really am. I’m not merely the best version of you that you can think of. I am far more than that, above and beyond all that you can ask or think.” (98)
“…created everything that actually exists, including what you consider the bad stuff,” Sarayu completed his sentence. “But when I created it, it was only Good, because that is just the way I am… You humans, so little in your own eyes. You are truly blind to your own place in the Creation. Having chosen the ravaged path of independence, you don’t even comprehend that you are dragging the entire Creation along with you.” She shook her head and the wind sighed through the trees nearby.” “So very sad, but it won’t be this way forever.” (131-32)
“Then it is you who determines good and evil. You become the judge. And to make things more confusing, that which you determine to be good will change over time and circumstance. And then beyond that and even worse, there are billions of you each determining what is good and what is evil. So when your good and evil clashes with your neighbor’s, fights and arguments ensue and even wards break out… And if there is no reality of good that is absolute, then you have lost any basis for judging. It is just language, and one might as well exchange the word good for the word evil.” (134-35)
“I used your choices to work perfectly into my purposes. There are many folk like you, Mackenzie, who end up locking themselves into a very small place with a monster that will ultimately betray them, that will not fill or deliver what they thought it would. Imprisoned with such a terror, they once again have the opportunity to return to me. The very treasure they trusted in will become their undoing.” (189)
“Mack, I am God. I forget nothing. I know everything. So forgetting for me is the choice to limit myself. Son… because of Jesus, there is now no law demanding that I bring your sins back to mind. They are gone when it comes to you and me, and they run no interference in our relationship.” (224)